The Hands-Free-Chromatic (HFC) harmonica is designed for those who wish to play a chromatic harmonica on a holder in order to simultaneously play another fretted, keyboard, or percussion instrument. The HFC also provides a full-capability musical instrument for those with impaired use of their hands.
It employs the reeds, comb, and covers of the high-quality Seydel Deluxe Steel chromatic harmonica. The pushbutton, slide, and metal mouthpiece are replaced by a movable, lightweight, plastic mouthpiece. A downward mouthpiece motion of only 4mm replaces the button-push of a standard chromatic. This is accomplished with a slight tilt of the player’s head exerting a force of only about 6 ounces. For comparison, a standard pushbutton requires a force of 16 ounces or more.
An unexpected benefit of the HFC movable mouthpiece is its freedom from leakage. To move freely, the slide of a standard chromatic requires clearances through which air leaks. Because the HFC mouthpiece rests directly against the comb face, there is almost no clearance through which air can leak.
The freedom from leakage makes the HFC very responsive. Bends of blow and draw notes are possible. These bends are not, however, as deep as the 2-reed draw bends of diatonic harmonicas.
If you can play a chromatic harmonica, you can play the HFC. Players report that substituting the movement of the 4 mm head-tilt for the button-pushing finger requires only a few minutes. The HFC solves the mechanical problem of playing a chromatic harmonica on a holder with a guitar or other instrument. Making the music is still up to you.
Here are examples of the HFC in action on Youtube:
- Enrico Granafei HFC, ENR, HR3 mic, wireless transmitter
- Sergei Kusnetsov has ENR neck yoke upside down
- Vern Smith inventor of HFC & ENR
- Ken Leiboff owner of many instruments
- Gary Lehman harmonica technician and repairman
- Cynthia Dusel-Bacon not able to push button on chromatic
The HFC was invented by Vern Smith of Laguna Woods, CA, circa 2001. It is currently made by Mike Easton of Lemoyne, PA .
The HFC mouthpiece mechanism has a one year warranty
The reeds have a 90-day warranty.
There is no warranty on valves/windsavers.
If you are interested in discussions about the HFC with other owners you can join us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1559739307532953